Press Release
September 2, 2015


Sen. Grace Poe said the poverty situation in the Philippines is giving rise to a huge number of abandoned children whose parents opt to give them up rather than have them live in miserable conditions.

Poe, a keynote speaker at the 13th Philippine Global Consultation on Child Welfare Services, said that while she is an advocate of adoption, she is saddened that poor families are forced to part with their children.

"I cannot help but find this truly tragic--because it underlies a willingness to keep the child if the parents or parent only had the means to do it," Poe said.

In 2012, a family of five needed a monthly income of P5,513 to buy their minimum basic food needs, and P7,890 to buy their minimum basic food and non-food needs.

Last year, 1 in 10 Filipinos was considered extremely poor, meaning they could not afford the food they need to perform economically necessary and socially desirable physical activities.

"This is why we should find ways to afford our people with decent and gainful employment, and make basic food and services affordable. This will ease the financial burden of raising children. Ultimately, my hope is that no Filipino should give up a child out of economic hardship," she said.

Poe, a foundling who was adopted by movie stars, said adoption provides a way for children in poverty to "develop and reach their full potential, and have a fighting chance to live a life of dignity and happiness."

"The slightest stroke of ill fortune could have rewritten my life story into something much different and perhaps less happy. This, in a way, is the situation of most children you are trying to place for adoption," Poe said.

She praised the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB) for its work in providing children with good homes and fulfilling people's wish to become parents.

The ICAB finalized 386 adoptions last year and 194 in the first half of 2015.

Poe said each individual adoption success was a triumph of human goodwill that goes beyond statistics even as it also reflects a sad reality in the Philippines.

"They indicate that there is still a huge number of unwanted children in our country, and this frankly saddens me. There is a multitude of reasons why parents give up their children, and in a developing country like the Philippines, poverty is surely number one," she said.

She said the government, as part of its general responsibility to protect the welfare of children, should endeavor to attend to their needs promptly.

This includes strengthening the system of birth registration, which the senator sought to streamline through Senate Bill No. 2892, which stipulates that any child who is found and classified as in need of special protection should receive, within 48 hours, whatever support is needed, be it documentation, medical attention or temporary custody.

"This bill ensures that the adoption process is streamlined, and not impeded by red tape," she said.

Poe said her advocacy for adoption stemmed from her desire to honor her parents, actors Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces.

"When I was adopted by my parents, there was no question they were acting out of any other motive than pure love. My advocacy of adoption is therefore a homage to them, and my love letter, returning a love that cannot even begin to equal the love that they had poured on this foundling from the start, which left no doubt in my mind that I was unquestionably, unconditionally and truly their daughter, period," she said.

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